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BMW i8 (2014) latest spy shots of production electric supercar

By Georg Kacher

Spy shots

30 April 2013 09:30

BMW is putting the finishing touches to its i8 supercar. We've already given the lowdown on the first Project i car - the i3 production car - but now we can reveal exactly what will make it to showrooms on the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar.

Tipping the scales at 1450 kilos, the i8 will be exclusively available as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The design will be remarkably close to the concept's: a low-flung 2+2 equipped with pop-up doors and wing-like rear spoilers, the BMW i halo car mates a 170bhp electric motor - which drives the front wheels - to a turbocharghed 1.5-litre three-cylinder good for 223bhp and 295lb ft, which drives the rear wheels.

Won't there be petrol BMW i8s as well?

Nope. The earlier considered M version, which would have instead relied on a big-bore V8 or even on the outgoing V10, is no longer part of the programme.

Thanks to a very clever black box, the i8 can be front-wheel drive (ZEV), rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

With a little help from the torque vectoring chips, this is said to be an extremely dynamic piece of kit which knows all the power oversteer tricks of the trade.

What will the range of the BMW i8 be?

Fully charged, the coupé can at the push of a button cover about 20 miles in near-silent zero-emission mode. When all 393 horses work together and dish up an aggregate 406lb ft of torque, the streamliner will beam you in 4.9sec from 0-62mph and on to a top speed of 156mph.

In the European driving cycle - which happens to ignore the energy required to charge the battery - the average fuel consumption works out at a miserly 104.2mpg. Unlike i1/i3/i5 which rely on a single-speed transmission mated directly to the e-motor, the i8 has a four-speed gearbox deal with its much broader performance range.

Recharging the battery is typically a six-hour affair, but access to high-voltage mains will get the job done in less than 60 minutes. 

How expensive will the BMW i8 be?

The plug-in hybrid sports car will cost in excess of €100,000. BMW nonetheless expects the racy gullwing crowd-puller to attract around 10,000 customers per year.

Like the other BMW i vehicles, the i8 is built around the principles of the so-called Life and Drive modules, denoting the carbonfibre body and the rolling chassis made of aluminium.

All i models come with such innovative driver assistance systems as One Pedal Control (accelerate, decelerate and coast by throttle order), Active Brake Control (works up to 40mph and includes pedestrian recognition), Park Assist (including automatic navigation), Congestion Assist (works up to 25mph and includes active steering), Range Assist (shows all available charge points and takes you there on demand), Precondition Assist (cooling down, heating, charging - all by smartphone) and Navigation Assist (connects with bus & rail services - just in case...).